“Behind every kick of the ball there has to be a thought” – that’s what Dennis Bergkamp once said, and it feels more apt than ever when looking at the FIFA franchise. For the last few years, FIFA has grown stale, failing to innovate in its modes while relying on an ageing engine and a continuing push to microtransactions in its most popular mode. It’s felt as though FIFA has just been kicking about, with no thought whatsoever. But, for the first time in years, FIFA 22 feels like it just might be turning the corner with a nod to the community and the game’s fans.
Note: The majority of this review refers to the PS5 version of the game, with some references to the PS4 version in the gameplay section.
Let’s get the easy bits out the way first – FIFA 22 looks and plays incredibly on the PS5. The 4K upgraded visuals look so much better than I could have ever imagined. For years I have praised EA’s ability to make excellent looking stadiums and for utilising its license monopoly, but the player likenesses have always been a bit disappointing. That is no longer the case, with player models looking absolutely spectacular and lifelike. It’s been a long time since I paused a game to look at player features in slow motion, but I found myself doing so over and over.
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For the melophiles out there, FIFA 22 boasts a massive lineup of over 122 tracks to cycle through while playing the game. It may not be the music that hits the heights of Blur’s Song 2, or Chumbawamba’s Tubthumping, but there is more than enough variety and quality to ensure that you don’t get annoyed by the same music over and over. Another tip to the community is the freshening up of the commentary team. Lee Dixon (praise your chosen deity) has thankfully left the game and is replaced by Steward Robson who joins Derek Rae in what seems to be a much more authentic representation of commentary rather than repetitive and annoying comments. Alex Scott makes history by becoming the first female commentator in the game and is a welcome choice adding a new dynamic to the commentary team. While there are still instances where the commentators say the completely wrong thing, it does feel a lot more organic.
Volta returns but seems to have even less focus than before. This time there is no story integrated, and instead, you just play the mode online or offline, with a friend or alone. It’s probably for the best as the mode has not done much in the years of its inclusion, and while it can be fun to take to the courts and show off some skills, it’s little more than a distraction – even if you look to unlock all the different styles and goodies (through in-game currency and not real money thankfully). Other returning modes that haven’t seen fundamental changes include the ever-popular Pro Clubs, Seasons Mode and your standard quick play friendlies.
One mode that has seen a massive change is the Career Mode. FIFA players are generally split into two types – those that run straight to the Ultimate Team mode, and those that go for the offline Career Mode. Those that play Career mode have been left frustrated over the past four years or so with the mode adding nothing of real value in terms of its gameplay or focus. The community has been crying out for drastic changes in the mode and one of the biggest requests has been to include an option to create your own club in career mode and establish that team in the world of football.
The “create-a-club” option is finally included in FIFA as a new option and adds a huge dimension to the FIFA setup.
There is enough offline and online content there to keep you busy for weeks as you start your journey.
Player movement is much smarter and your own team AI no longer makes ridiculous decisions that make you want to throw the control against the wall.
There’s a definite drop in quality in the PS4 version which feels almost identical to FIFA 21 unfortunately.
Sarcasm and irony are his greatest tools, sport, adventure and shooting all the fools. Platformers =admiration, horror games = contempt, plans to live forever or die in the attempt.
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28 September 2021
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